Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – BFI London Film Festival Review

by Sarah Cook

When Rian Johnson’s Knives Out came out in 2019, it revitalised the Whodunnit genre and switched up the game. Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc was instantly lifted into the annals of great literary detectives; his southern drawl placed with alums such as Jessica Fletcher, Poirot, and Sherlock Holmes.

As with anything successful, Knives Out instantly produced a sequel – the hilariously named Glass Onion.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is set in Greece, on an island owned by tech billionaire Miles Bron. After inviting his friends for a weekend away, as well as inviting Benoit to the party, Miles promises a murder mystery – his own fake slaying. However, old friends mean old grudges, and with seven people on an isolated island, perhaps there may be a real murder.

The beginning of Glass Onion is a bit of a shock. Filmed during the lockdown, there are references to COVID and how that altered the characters we are introduced to in a long, ingenious set-up. For some, this lead is slow but there is a moment, quite early on, when you realise this film isn’t Knives Out. Glass Onion is entirely its own beast. A new setting, new characters, and a new mystery but there are two commonalities: Benoit Blanc is in it, and so are a bunch of rich arseholes.

Without meaning to sound gushing, Rian Johnson is a clever little writer, isn’t he? Even after watching Knives Out, it is near impossible to guess where the story is going. Similarly, to the wooden puzzle box at the beginning of the movie, there is no clear way to solve the story. That only adds to the fun. Rian Johnson unravels the story so enigmatically told that it is thrilling to be absorbed in a tightly written, and perfectly directed film.

As it is a sequel, naturally the film is splashier and sunnier. The heat-soaked island, off the coast of Greece, with this ginormous sculpture is a perfect setting for a film about the uber-rich and all their conniving ways. As this largely reprehensible group of people swan around this lavish villa, dip in the pool, and forgive Miles for all his arrogant sins. It’s sleek and stunning to watch.

It helps that there is yet another huge collective of actors here. Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr, Jessica Henwick, Madeline Cline, and Dave Bautista, all play their roles exceedingly well here. Especially Norton who has to skewer the insipid tech geniuses. Though the cast is great together, Kate Hudson is the MVP and is clearly having the best time as the vapid, dim-witted model Birdie.

Of course, at the centre of the film, is Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc (who is now a stylish, queer icon, by the way,) who, dare I say, is more iconic than his James Bond. He is the brains in this mystery. Similarly, to how Ana De Armas is the heart of Knives Out, it is Janelle Monae’s character who is the heart of this one. Craig and Monae are astonishingly good together here. 

Props have to go to Jenny Eagan’s wardrobe too because honestly, it is astounding, and garners some of the biggest laughs in the room. Whether it is Blanc’s blue and white stripy swimsuit, Dave Bautista’s bikini, or Kate Hudson’s many outfits, Eagan’s work is beautiful and brilliant.

The more the movie sits on the mind – like a mystery you have to mull over – the more enjoyable it becomes. Rian Johnson cleverly infuses this film with so many intricacies – homages, cameos, and easter eggs – that there are so many layers to peel back over and over again.

Like an onion.

A glass onion. 

GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY will be in cinemas nationwide from November 23 for one week only, and on Netflix globally from December 23

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.